Sermons

Summary: THIS IS THE FOURTH AND FINAL SERMON IN A PRE-EASTER SERIES ON THE CHARACTERS OF EASTER. IN IT WE LOOK AT THE JEWISH CROWD THAT CRIED FOR JESUS' DEATH AND REALIZE THAT HAD WE BEEN THERE WE WOULD HAVE BEEN ONE OF THEM. WE WOULD ALSO BE BARABBAS

CHOOSING WITH CARELESSNESS

MATTHEW 27:15-26

TODAY WE ARE GOING TO CONCLUDE OUR SERIES ON SOME OF THE CHARACTERS OF EASTER, BY LOOKING AT THE MOST VIOLENT OF ALL THE CHARACTERS. PILATE, PETER, AND JUDAS ALL SHOWED EITHER REMORSE OR A CARING ATTITUDE TOWARDS CHRIST, WANTING TO AVOID HAVING TO TAKE HIS LIFE. HIS OWN PEOPLE THOUGH, SEEMED TO BE THE MOST HEARTLESS, WILLING TO ALLOW THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS TO BE PASSED ON TO THEIR CHILDREN.

THE MENTALITY OF A CROWD CAN BE TRANSFORMING. IT CAN LEAD INDIVIDUALS TO TAKE ACTIONS THAT LEFT BY THEMSELVES THEY NEVER WOULD DO. THIS IS THE MENTALITY OF RIOTS AND DEMONSTRATIONS, WHERE THE CROWD BECOMES THE INDIVIDUAL VOICE. SOCIOLOGIST GUSTAVE LeBON WROTE:

“ISOLATED, HE MAY BE A CULTIVATED INDIVIDUAL, IN A CROWD HE IS A BARBARIAN…AN INDIVIDUAL IN A CROWD IS A GRAIN OF SAND AMID THE OTHER GRAINS OF SAND, WHICH THE WIND STIRS UP AT WILL. WHOEVER BE THE INDIVIDUALS THAT COMPOSE IT, HOWEVER LIKE OR UNLIKE BE THEIR MODE OF LIFE, THEIR OCCUPATIONS, THEIR CHARACTER, OR THEIR INTELLIGENCE, THE FACT THEY HAVE BEEN TRANSFORMED INTO A CROWD PUTS THEM IN POSSESSION OF A SORT OF COLLECTIVE MIND, WHICH MAKES THEM FEEL, THINK, AND ACT IN A MANNER QUITE DIFFERENT FROM THAT IN WHICH EACH INDIVIDUAL OF THEM WOULD FEEL, THINK AND ACT WERE HE IN A STATE OF ISOLATION. THERE ARE CERTAIN IDEAS AND FEELINGS WHICH DO NOT TRANSFORM THEMSELVES INTO ACTS EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF INDIVIDUALS FORMING A CROWD.”

THIS WAS PASSOVER TIME IN JERUSALEM AND IT’S JEWISH POPULATION SWELLED INTO THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS AS IT WAS A MAJOR HOLY DAY AND ALL JEWS WERE TO CELEBRATE IT IN JERUSALEM IF POSSIBLE. BOTH PILATE AND HEROD WERE PRESENT IN JERUSALEM WITH ROMAN FORCES TO KEEP THE PEACE AND PUT DOWN ANY ATTEMPTS AT REBELLION FROM SUCH A GREAT CROWD. THE JEWISH RELIGIOUS LEADERS LEARNED THAT IF THEY CONTROLED THE CROWD, THEY COULD MANIPULATE THE SITUATION TO THEIR OWN ENDS.

CROWD MENTALITY IS ALWAYS FULL OF EMOTION AND THIS CAN BE GOOD OR BAD. THIS PASSOVER IN JERUSALEM, IT WOULD BE BOTH. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WEEK THE CROWD WELCOMED JESUS INTO JERUSALEM AS THEIR KING. THEY BELIEVED HE WOULD RESTORE THEIR NATION AND DRIVE OUT THE ROMANS. THEY LAID PALM BRANCHES FOR HIM TO WALK ON. THE PALM TREE WAS THE SYMBOL OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL. THESE PALM BRANCHES WERE THEIR FLAGS, AND THEY LOOKED TO JESUS TO BE THE RULER OF THEIR PHYSICAL KINGDOM.

IT WOULD SOON BECOME APPARENT THAT JESUS WOULD NOT BE WHAT THEY WERE LOOKING FOR.

JOHN 18:36: JESUS SAID, “MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD. IF IT WERE, MY SERVANTS WOULD FIGHT TO PREVENT MY ARREST BY THE JEWISH LEADERS. BUT NOW MY KINGDOM IS FROM ANOTHER PLACE.

OVER THE WEEK THE CROWDS IN JERUSALEM WOULD GROW, AND THE CROWD THAT WAS GATHERED OUTSIDE PILATE’S RESIDENCE WAS NOT THE SAME CROWD THAT WELCOMED JESUS INTO JERUSALEM. THIS CROWD WOULD MEET IN THE MORNING, MOST LIKELY AMBIVILENT TO THE ACTIVITIES OF THE WEEK AND COMING TO DEAL WITH DAILY MATTERS. IT WAS THE PERFECT CROWD TO BE MANIPULATED BY THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS TO MEET THEIR OWN ENDS.

THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS PLANTED SPIES IN THE CROWD SO THAT THEY COULD MANIPULATE THEM TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANTED. THE DECISIONS THIS CROWD WOULD MAKE WOULD BE CARELESS DECISIONS MADE WITHOUT CONSIDERATION OF THE CONSEQUENCES, IN THE HEAT OF EMOTION, AND IN HASTE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS.

PILATE WAS IN A DIFFICULT POSITION AS HE KNEW THAT JESUS WAS INNOCENT, AND NEEDED TO CONVINCE THE CROWDS OF THIS. HE TRIED A VERY DESPERATE PLAN TO APPEASE THE CROWD.

ON MAJOR HOLIDAYS SUCH AS PASSOVER, THE ROMANS ADOPTED THE CUSTOM OF RELEASING A CONDEMNED PRISONER. PILATE HAD THREE MEN WHO WERE CONDEMNED TO DIE. TWO WERE THIEVES AND UNNAMED, ONE WAS A MURDERER NAMED BARABBAS. HE WAS CERTAIN THAT THE JEWS WOULD CHOOSE JESUS OVER BARABBAS. CONSIDER THE TWO:

JESUS BARABBAS

3 TIMES PILATE FINDS NO FAULT GUILTY OF CRIMES AND A

IN HIM. HE IS LAW ABIDING. REBEL GUILTY OF SEDITION

SAVED OTHERS HURT OTHERS

TRUSTED GOD TRUSTED HIMSELF

RIGHTEOUS OR JUST MAN UNRIGHTEOUS AND UNJUST

HELPED OTHERS ROBBED FROM OTHERS

THE SON OF GOD THE SON OF THE DEVIL

HIS PLAN WAS MASTERFUL ALTHOUGH I DON’T BELIEVE HE KNEW HOW MASTERFUL IT WAS. IF THE PEOPLE CHOSE JESUS, IT WAS WANT HE WANTED TO HAPPEN, IF THEY CHOSE BARABBAS, THEN UNFORTUNATELY HE WOULD HAVE TO EXECUTE JESUS, BUT BARABBAS WOULD COMMIT ANOTHER CRIME AND HE WOULD THEN BE EXECUTED.

WHAT HE DIDN’T PLAN ON WAS THE WISDOM OF THE HIGH PRIEST AND HOW THEY ALONG WITH THEIR SPIES WOULD LEAD THE PEOPLE TO CHOOSE BARABBAS.

THE CROWD WAS MOSTLY A JERUSALEM CROWD AND RULED FROM A RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL STANDPOINT BY THE HIGH PRIEST. THEY DARED NOT CROSS HIM OR THEY FACED THE THREAT OF BEING BANISHED FROM THE TEMPLE AND BECOMING SOCIAL OUTCASTS. THE SPIES BEGIN THE CHANT “CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!” AND SOON ALL THE PEOPLE ARE SHOUTING THIS IN UNISON. THE DECISION IS MADE.

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